Upscale Homeless Are Fuel For Urban’s Fire

You have to know your customer inside and out. That’s a given.

It’s also important to refrain from projecting your own values, or the brand’s values, onto one’s idealized customers. People are complex, so reducing their behaviors and thus their identities into neat little packages, or target demos as the case may be, is a tricky business.

upscale homeless

To illustrate the point, Buzzfeed, shares some “investor language” from Urban Outfitters’ CEO, Richard Hayne.

The Urban customer, we always talk about, is the upscale homeless person, who has a slight degree of angst and is probably in the life stage of 18 to 26 … The Anthropologie customer is a bit more polished, a bit more older and she has much less angst … She tends to be a homeowner and she tends to be in a relationship and more likely than not, married with children.

There are upscale homeless persons? Of course not. By homeless, Hayne means mortgage-less.

Apparently, angst-ridden renters have plenty of cash, because Urban Outfitters’ sales for its most recent year were about $2.8 billion, a 13% increase from the prior period.

Photo credit: Chicisimo



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.